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Amaze is a single player maze game from ThinkFun, and recommended for players ages 8 to adult. The maze board is changeable with 16 different mazes, and puts an interesting spin on maze games.

Game Contents

  • Maze board and an attached stylus
  • 16 challenge settings available on the back (with three difficulty levels)
  • Instructions included in the box provide further directions and also proved the solutions to all the mazes

Game Play

Amaze is extremely easy to set up.  There are red indicators on the left side of the board, and those indicators program to one of 16 mazes.  These settings make the maze progressively harder.  Once the player set the maze, you trace your path through the maze without lifting the stylus from start to finish.  During play, the player pushes the red bars left or right to open up a new path, or potentially trap you.  

Family Gaming Assessment

Amaze is a perfect travel game for families.  Amaze has the ideal design feature, attaching the stylus so it can not be lost.  Additionally, the maze itself is small enough to fit in a purse or backpack. For as simple as the design is the mazes are challenging and don’t present obvious solutions.  Being a single player game kids or adults can work on the maze for a while and put it away easily when they need a break.  Another advantage of Amaze is this is a battery free quiet game.  Amaze is perfect for a waiting room, since play is quiet.

Conclusion


Since this game has come into my house is has been played by children as young as five and up to adults.  The appeal is in the simplicity of the game, yet challenging nature of the mazes.  This is a great addition to a game collection for travel or quiet play and will appeal to anyone who enjoys mazes.

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Family Board Game Review: Laser Maze Jr.

Introduction

Laser Maze Jr. is a single player logic game designed for ages six and up by Thinkfun. This game challenges the player to set up tokens to match a challenge card. The player then adds mirrors to the board. The objective is to reflect a laser beam so it lights up the rocket (or rockets with more difficult cards) light up.

Game Contents

  • Game Grid with Laser
  • 40 challenge cards
  • Instruction Manual with solutions
  • 11 Game tokens which include:
  • 2 Rocket Targets
  • 5 Satellite Mirrors
  • 3 Space Rock Blockers
  • 1 Beam Splitter

The components of the game are good quality solid plastic. They are designed with grays and blacks as well as bright red, green, and purple. These are the perfect size for an early elementary school age child to manipulate with ease.

Game Play

The player selects a challenge card. There are four levels of play: easy, medium, hard, super hard. The 40 cards are numbered and get progressively harder as they move within each level of play.

The player selects a card and it is inserted under the Game Grid to shows the player where the Rocket target as well as any Space Rock Blockers are placed. At the bottom of the card the additional pieces needed to complete the challenge are displayed. The player then manipulates the additional pieces around the Game Grid in order to reflect the laser. The challenge is successful once the Rocket Target is lit up by the laser beam.
The player can then select another card and complete an additional challenge or conclude their game.

Family Game Assessment

This is a wonderful game for early elementary school children to develop their logical reasoning and problem solving skills. This game is recommended for ages six and up, however my four and a half year old son was able to easily manipulate the pieces and begin working on the easy challenges with some parental or older sibling support. This is not a games intended for teamwork and collaboration, however especially for younger players it naturally modifies to a collaborative the format to make it a partner or group activity. If your child is interested in logic and problem solving activities this is a great game to sit down together with and work through the challenge cards. There are rich opportunities for discourse that can build their confidence and guide them to attempting different strategies as the difficulty level increases across the challenge cards.

Conclusion

Laser Maze Jr. is a wonderful STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Math) game to develop a range of skills including: logical reasoning, problem solving, and guess and check. The children I observed were motivated to get the Rocket Target to light up, and got quite excited when they are able to accomplish that goal. This game is a valuable addition to a family’s game collection for families with younger children.

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gravity maze hi rez image

Gravity Maze is a single player logic game designed for ages 8 to adult by Thinkfun.  This game challenges the player to set up towers as indicated on a challenge card.  The player then adds towers to the game grid.  The objective is to create a maze so a ball can travel from the Start Position to the Target Tower.

Game Contents

  • Game Grid
  • 60 challenge cards (with solutions on the back)
    • (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert)
  • Instruction Manual
  • 9 Building Towers
  • Target Tower
  • 3 Marbles (only one needed per game, the rest are extra)

The components of the game are good quality, solid plastic.  They are designed with clear exterior framework and brightly colored interior elements that can direct the ball in a range of directions.  Each size is a different color, and the pieces are color coded on the Challenge Cards.

Gameplay

The player selects a challenge card.  There are 4 levels of play: beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. The 60 cards are numbered and get progressively harder as they move within each level of play.

The player selects a card and looks at the location and colors of the pieces displayed on the picture.  They set the Game Grid up to match the picture on the card. There are black dots on each of the tower pieces and those dots correspond to the picture on the cards to ensure you are orienting the piece correctly in the set up.  The interior of the tower has different sections which will allow the marble to either pass straight through, or the square in divided in half in a range of directions.  Next, at the bottom of the card, the additional pieces to complete the challenge are listed.  The piece that is the starting place for marble is noted with a white dot on the card, and the target tower is represented by a red box with a target on it. As the challenge level increases you need to be more and more creative with the placement of the towers, including putting them upside down.

Once the player has placed all the pieces where they believe they will allow the marble to travel to the target, they place the marble in the top of the starting town and see the path it actually takes. If the marble does not go into the target tower, the player simply revisits their setup to make the needed adjustments until they are successful.  If they are stuck, a solution is provided on the back of the card.  Once the marble has traveled into the target tower, the player can then select another card and complete an additional challenge or conclude their game.

Family Game Assessment

Gravity Maze is a wonderful game for children to develop their logical reasoning and problem solving skills. Gravity Maze is recommended for ages 8 and up, and has the potential to be frustrating for players in the younger range as they advance in the challenge levels.  While this is designed as a single player game, teamwork and collaboration could be incorporated into working though the problem solving this game demands.  Younger players especially could benefit from adult coaching to strengthen their perseverance.  Knowing the solution is on the reverse of the card, it may be tempting for them  to look to the solution right away.  In contrast, with older players, they may want to work through the challenge independently.  Then, they can share their results, and another player could solve the next card.  For a simple single player game, there are a range of options to incorporate other members of the family.

Conclusion

Gravity Maze won the Toy of the Year Award in 2015, and it is clear why.  Gravity Maze is a wonderful STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Math) game to develop a range of skills including: logical reasoning, problem solving, and guess and check.  Additionally, this game has the possibility to enable the player to experience a productive struggle as they work through the challenge cards. Being able to persevere through a productive struggle can make them more comfortable having to work through unsuccessful attempts to find a solution academically. If you or your family enjoy logic and reasoning games, this is a great addition to your collection.

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Publisher: ThinkFun
Genre: Card Based Word Game/Party Game
Players: 2 or more
Ages: 8 to Adult
Time: 5 minutes
MSRP: $12.99

Last Letter consists of a sturdy box holding 61 uniquely illustrated cards and a rules booklet.

The game will reinforce quick thinking, visual discrimination, imagination, and creativity.

Gameplay is very straightforward. The object is to be the first player to empty your hand. Each player is dealt 5 face down cards and one card goes face up in the center of the play area. The remaining cards are set aside. The dealer looks at the face up card and calls out a word for something on the card. All players the look at their 5 cards and race to find something pictured on them that begins with the last letter of the word called out. Once a player finds an acceptable word on one of their cards, they call it out and place it on the center pile. Players then rush to find cards that start with the new last letter. Ties are resolved by who physically got their card on the pile first. Gameplay continues until one player discards his last card.

Last Letter is an image based word game that is really quick and fun to play. The images and style of these over-sized cards was vaguely reminiscent of DixIt Adults can play through a hand at lightning speed, often leaving competitors completely speechless. Children play a little slower, but their take on the images is often surprising and insightful. The variations on this game are endless. Players can choose to eliminate certain categories of words to make the game more challenging. This game can also be a great vocabulary builder for foreign languages (what a great way to help your children practice their foreign language words) and we’ve also played with the cards as story starters and writing prompts similar to Rory’s Story Cubes.

Conclusion

Overall, we highly recommend Last Letter as an addition to your board game collection. The base game is fun as a stand alone game, but the versatility makes this worth every penny of the MSRP.

Disclosure: A review copy of this game was provided gratis from ThinkFun.

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